Let’s play a game.
Pick out the headline below that is not from the satirical news website, The Onion:
- “Scientists Find Strong Link Between Male Virility, Wearing Mötley Crüe Denim Jacket”
- “Guns Won’t Protect You, Old People, You’re Too Old And Weak”
- “New Evidence Suggests Early Humans First Used Fire To Impress Friends”
- “More Realistic Meat Substitute Made From Soy Raised In Brutally Cruel Conditions”
- “Scientists Slowly Reintroducing Small Group Of Normal, Well-Adjusted Humans Into Society”
If you guessed #2, you probably cheated by Googling it.
Yes, “Guns Won’t Protect You, Old People, You’re Too Old And Weak” was actually an article posted on Gawker.com on March 29. It’s difficult to take seriously; as you read it, you keep expecting a grinning Ashton Kutcher to leap off the screen, telling us we’ve been punked.
Here’s a sampling of the journalistic wit expressed by the author, Hamilton Nolan:
“Can you even find the safety on the handgun you’ve purchased? Probably not very quickly, with your poor eyesight and fingers ravaged by arthritis.”
“Might as well get yourself a dragon, or a unicorn trained to be your bodyguard. That would help you just as much.”
“Were you to somehow squeeze off a shot in the course of being attacked it’s as likely as not that you’d shoot yourself in the knee replacement as shoot the bad guy.”
“Failing to take your medication is the greatest threat you need to worry about.”
We’ll pause while you recover from your laughing fit. Ready? Wow, that didn’t take long.
Perhaps Nolan, who appears to be 12 years old but writes like a man half his age, thinks he’s the next P.J. O’Rourke. But his recipe for humor leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like it substitutes bile for sugar or something. In his other columns—juvenile, vulgar tirades against union-busting corporations, college kids, Wall Street and speakers at the Women of the World Summit—he’s every bit as funny as your irritating uncle who rants on Facebook.
So, let’s consider, and answer, two possibilities:
- He seriously thinks anyone over 60 can’t defend themselves with a gun. To which we answer, Jerry Miculek.
- He’s not serious, but he’s mighty impressed with himself. In that case, we’ll let Gawker decide how much his humor is worth—that is, if they have any money left after paying Hulk Hogan $140 million.
However, let’s don’t be too hasty to snarl, “Get off my lawn” and slam the screen door in Norman’s face (Nolan—I meant Nolan). Serious or not, there’s something very familiar about his dismissiveness—like we’ve heard this before.
Reading his full diatribe against our tribal elders, you can hear an echo of every argument of those who would like to restrict the ability of others to defend themselves. They’re all rooted in the same mindset, which takes the form of:
“You’re too (blank) to defend yourself with a gun.”
You’re too old. Or you’re too young. Or too irresponsible. Or too female. Or too weird. Or too PTSD. Too excitable, too redneck, too … something.
Or maybe you’re more familiar with its corollary: “You’re not (blank) enough:” Not rich enough, not famous enough, not trustworthy enough, not police enough, not trained enough, not smart enough, not white enough, not male enough, or not important enough to be entrusted with the responsibility of defending yourself. “Here, you let us have that, and you call us when you need us.”
I have a suggestion: Those who think the right to keep and bear arms should have an expiration date (if they think it should date at all at this age) should take up tennis. When I was 16, I was much leaner, stronger and faster than the 60-year-olds who had been playing all their lives—which made it all the more infuriating when they pounded me. They didn’t move as fast or hit as hard, but they returned everything—one more time than I could.
Let’s pit the young, fast, strong Norman against the wizened tennis-playing retiree and see how he fares. That would be much safer for him than allowing him to square off against one of seniors who regularly make the Armed Citizen column. After all, we don’t want him to get hurt; we just want to teach that young whippersnapper a lesson.
(Nolan. I meant Nolan.)